A brief and exhilarating plunge into Okanagan Lake has become a tradition for hundreds of valley residents keen on ringing in the new year in a communal way.
From one end of the Okanagan Valley to the other, polar bear dippers are gearing up for Okanagan Lake New Year’s Day swims.
Kelowna, while not home to the oldest polar bear dip, is usually the one that sees the most people on the shores of the lake awaiting a quick plunger.
CRIS Adaptive Adventures hosts that event as a fundraiser at Tug Boat Bay from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., with the dip at 2 p.m. Nicole Chirkoff, executive directive of the organization that brings the outdoors to people who may otherwise not be able to access it themselves, is looking forward to her turn at plunging into the lake.
“Typically when you’re cold dipping you do it for yourself but with everyone all together, it adds an element of excitement,” she said, adding that last year they had around 1,000 participants and this year they’re expecting even more.
“It’s a pretty exhilarating run into the lake with everybody running as fast as they can and people getting out as fast as they can. Cold dipping is invigorating. You get out and feel like your body is on fire.”
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That, she said, is a good thing and it’s made better by all else that’s added to the event.
There will be coffee, food trucks, music, and some breathing exercises offered to get everyone on the same page for the festive family event.
The aim for this year’s fundraiser is $24,000, which is near what they raised last year.
Other communities offering up a dip include Summerland, which is on its 38th annual event. That event will take place at Sun-Oka Beach at noon and is hosted by the local Kinsmen Club. It’s also a fundraiser for the volunteer organization.
0:26Summerland Polar Bear Swim 2018
Post-dip, attendees can enjoy warm fires, hot dogs and hot chocolate. Penticton Search and Rescue will be on hand to help out.
Peachland will also be hosting its annual polar bear dip, on Jan. 1 at 1 p.m., though a pre-event check-in is required. The check-in runs from noon to 12:45 p.m.
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